8 August 2012
Our Shipping Future
Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you today, and to participate in the Natship Conference 2012.
There can be no doubt that Australia is one of the world’s major maritime nations, as you might expect from a country that constitutes the world’s largest island and which shares no land boundary with any other nation.
No matter whether your measure is the length of your coastline (nearly 36,000 kilometres), the extent of your EEZ (some 8.15 million square kilometres) or the fact that Australia depends almost exclusively on shipping to transport its imports and exports, the inevitable conclusion is that Australia is a maritime heavyweight.
It is a position that not only confers rights, but also brings responsibilities, and Australia, to no small extent through AMSA, our host today, has shown a keen willingness to shoulder those responsibilities and discharge them effectively. In this context, one thinks immediately of Australia’s world-renowned search and rescue service that covers some 52.8 million square kilometres of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, which equates to an area of around ten per cent of the earth’s surface. And the very proactive steps Australia has taken to protect its sensitive coastal and maritime areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait, reinforce the fact that this is a nation that takes its responsibilities towards maritime matters very seriously indeed.
This is also reflected in Australia’s active engagement in IMO, seen in its strong participation in IMO’s Committees and Sub-Committees, its willingness to host conferences and meetings, to provide technical assistance to develop regional capacity, and to field individuals to undertake important roles within the Organization as a whole, as well as in its continuing representation on IMO’s 40-country Council, membership of which is decided by vote among all the Organization’s Member States.
The specific challenges faced by shipping nations alter and develop over time, as the need arises to respond to changes in the shipping industry and in the global context. In 2012, for example, we are still heavily engaged in tackling piracy and in ensuring effective implementation of the energy efficiency measures for ships that we have already adopted in order to reduce the contribution of shipping to greenhouse gas emissions and the resultant climate change.
But, for me, safety will always be the core function of IMO and the main concern that keeps driving us forward, as we strive constantly to deliver an international regulatory structure that ensures shipping remains safe, secure, efficient and environment-friendly.
Take, for example, IMO’s successful development and adoption of a wide range of measures designed to enhance the safety of large passenger ships. This has a particular relevance in 2012, for this is not only a year in which the anniversaries of some notable passenger ship accidents fall, giving us the opportunity to recall how much has been achieved in improving safety for these ships; but also a year in which accidents such as the Rabaul Queen, off Papua New Guinea (to which AMSA provided considerable assistance in the rescue efforts), the Shariatpur-1 in Bangladesh and passenger ferry MV Skagit off Zanzibar indicated the need for improvement in domestic ferry safety and technical cooperation. I do not need to mention that the Costa Concordia, on the coast of Italy, has reminded us that our work to continually improve safety will never cease.
Even before the Costa Concordia incident made headlines all around the world, safety at sea was always going to be in sharp focus for IMO during 2012. The whole world awaits the investigation into the Costa Concordia casualty – and IMO is the right place to learn the lessons from the incident and ensure they are acted upon. Now, in the wake of that incident, and others involving domestic passenger ships, safety is featuring even more prominently in the work of IMO both in the legislative as well as technical cooperation fields.
The most famous of this year’s anniversaries is, of course, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the White Star liner Titanic, as is reflected in the theme for this year’s World Maritime Day. It prompted the major shipping nations of the world, at that time, to take decisive action to address maritime safety and led to the adoption of the first International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS, in 1914.
Today, in 2012, although much updated and revised, SOLAS is still the most important international treaty instrument addressing maritime safety. But each new generation of vessels brings fresh challenges and, as we have seen, accidents still occur today, reinforcing the need for continual improvement. Our efforts to promote maritime safety and, in particular, to avoid such disasters befalling passenger ships, must go on.
To this end, we are planning to hold a two-day symposium at IMO Headquarters, in London, in conjunction with IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee next June, on the "Future of Ship Safety”. The Symposium offers an opportunity to look ahead to ships of the future, built to meet clear goals whilst working in a safe operating envelope and taking into account the human element in all operations. The ships of the future must provide a sustainable response to the needs of society, industry and global trade and be operated within a regulatory framework that encourages a safety culture beyond mere compliance. I would like to extend my personal invitation to AMSA and the shipping industry of Australia to the Future Ship Safety Symposium next year.
Ladies and gentlemen, if ship safety is a recurrent theme in IMO’s work, then so too is piracy – a problem that IMO has been addressing since the mid-1980s. A key component of IMO’s strategy has been to foster the development of regional agreements to develop and implement counter-piracy measures, and we have seen this work to considerable effect. IMO was, for example, instrumental in establishing the framework for collaboration among the littoral states of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and the South China Sea that proved so successful in helping to almost eradicate piracy in what used to be the world’s major piracy hotspot.
Subsequently it was at IMO’s behest that the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia was drawn to the attention of the United Nations Security Council; and, since then, the Organization has been in the vanguard of counter-piracy efforts, both on its own initiative and in collaboration with others. I note, in this regard, Australia’s provision of a naval vessel for escorting services in the Gulf of Aden (Combined Maritime Force).
The benefit of many of the positive lessons learned from the experience in south-east Asia is now being harnessed in the work undertaken to combat Somali-based piracy, most notably through the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which now boasts 20 States Party – the latest to sign being Mozambique on 6 July this year.
IMO is now working hard, with others, to deliver viable solutions under the Djibouti Code of Conduct in a number of initiatives, such as the building of effective counter-piracy capacity and infrastructure in the affected region; the development of proper legal and criminal infrastructures; undermining the pirate economy and its associated financial model and helping to develop viable, alternative sources of income for those who have been, or may be, tempted to turn to crime. These are some of the areas on which the spotlight must now shine more brightly if we are to bring piracy to an end.
Indeed, there is a growing recognition that only the solution of Somalia's problems ashore will lead to a lasting solution to the problem of piracy. IMO is working actively with a number of other agencies on related initiatives, and recently concluded five strategic partnerships with a number of UN agencies and the EU. A wide range of activities are envisaged as a result of these partnerships.
In the meantime, of course, it is vital that the immediate, preventative measures designed to protect merchant vessels from pirate attacks continue to be properly observed and fully implemented. The mobilization and coordination of naval forces, the use of the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden and compliance with the Best Management Practices are all examples such measures.
The carriage of firearms on board merchant ships is a complex legal issue and countries hold diverse positions on the subject. It was with this in mind that, in May, a first-ever high-level segment of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee was held to discuss how the international community should deal with issues related to the deployment of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel and the carriage of arms aboard ships, which, as reiterated by the Committee, is ultimately the responsibility of the flag State.
Following an intensive debate, the MSC agreed that international guidance should be prepared for Private Security Companies and, currently, work is progressing for preparation of a draft. The outcome of the MSC was positive, but still further work will be necessary in dealing with different legal regimes in flags, coastal and port States in handling arms onboard ships.
Ladies and gentlemen, piracy is a symptom which can be treated and its effects can be alleviated. However, real progress can only be made by addressing the cause, and that lies ashore, in Somalia. In this context, I am determined to accelerate IMO's capacity-building activities for the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct and explore ways of cooperation with UN Agencies to help Somalia with anti-piracy capacity-building work.
I intimated a few moments ago that IMO’s mandate also embraces environmental stewardship. In this context, one of the most important themes of our work in recent years has been our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. IMO’s adoption, in July 2011, of mandatory technical and operational measures designed to do just that was a genuine breakthrough, being the first-ever set of mandatory GHG emission reduction requirements for an international industry sector. From a political perspective, these were not the easiest of measures for IMO Members to adopt – far from it. And this is neither the time nor the place to go back over those difficult political complexities.
Instead I would encourage the shipping industry to look beyond the political debate and to see GHG reduction as a good opportunity to make their own operations more streamlined and cost-effective, through the development and introduction of a new generation of more energy-efficient ships that will be better for the environment, better for the economy and better for the shipping industry.
Not only that, I think Governments have an important role to play, for example in establishing incentives and award schemes for companies that would make significant investments towards energy efficiency.
There remain differences and divergence in opinion among IMO Member Governments on this issue. As a way forward, I have urged that efforts should be concentrated on constructive development to find a solution based on common ground. This requires real creative action with a sense of cooperation and a spirit of compromise to invent a new and practicable way forward. I am under no illusion that this will require significant effort from all parties involved, but I also have tremendous faith in the cooperative and collaborative process that has served IMO so well throughout its history.
Through its technical cooperation activities, IMO helps build capacity to enable developing countries to participate fully in maritime activities. This generates wealth, jobs and economic activity not only in the maritime sector but in other areas that rely on maritime trade for access to global markets.
In order to provide the best possible assistance to developing countries, and thus ensure the most effective and cost-efficient delivery of IMO’s technical cooperation activities, I am encouraging a more targeted approach to be adopted when planning such activities, to make them more closely aligned to the real needs of developing countries. A useful tool for identifying high-priority needs would be the development of individual country profiles, based on clearly defined capacity-building requirements. I envisage that Member States would play a key role by providing information and feedback on what their most important priorities are. Further, I believe it would be useful to assist developing countries with the formulation of a national transport strategy and policy in order to provide a springboard for the development of maritime clusters in those countries. I think it would also be of considerable value for all IMO Member States participating in the audit scheme – which, let us remember, is currently voluntary but soon to become mandatory.
The audit scheme is a key element in improving the capability and capacity of Member States to respond to the demands placed on them by the relevant IMO treaties.
So far, 67 Member States and two Associate Members have volunteered for audits, and 50 Member States, including Australia, two Associate Members and five dependent territories have been audited. Three further audits are scheduled for the remainder of this year. Valuable lessons are being learned as we move towards the mandatory scheme, and it is already clear how generic lessons learnt from audits can be provided to all Member States so that the benefits can be widely shared.
The work to institutionalize the audit scheme is progressing well. The draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the audit standard, and draft texts of amendments to the relevant IMO instruments to make the III Code mandatory have been prepared.
It is intended that the III Code should be adopted by the IMO Assembly, at its twenty-eighth session, in late 2013. Subsequently, the amendments to the treaty instruments could be adopted, to make the auditing and Code mandatory. This will be a significant step in the history of IMO.
Ladies and gentlemen, in June, I went to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, to re-affirm IMO’s commitment to sustainable development and, in particular, to sustainable maritime development. I used the event as a platform to draw attention to how shipping contributes significantly to the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental.
Let us examine the facts. First, on the economy: international shipping transports about 90 per cent of global trade, by sea, to peoples and communities all over the world. Shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods; it provides a dependable, low-cost means of transporting goods globally, facilitating commerce and helping to create prosperity among nations and peoples.
Global food security is dependent on a safe and secure delivery method – and that means international shipping.
Shipping also delivers energy for all. Shipping is a life-line for trade and for manufacturing industries. Shipping is not discretionary. It is indispensable and essential for growth and sustainable development.
On the social side, as the delivery mechanism for global trade, shipping supports and sustains a huge number and range of wealth-creating and poverty-alleviating activities in both developed and developing countries. Shipping provides job opportunities to people in developing countries. More than 1.5 million people are employed as seafarers and the vast majority are from developing countries. And, if the world economy continues to grow, more highly trained and qualified seafarers will be needed. To meet the demands of growth, the industry will need more than 50,000 new seafarers every year. Related activities such as shipbuilding, ship repair and ship recycling provide more jobs to people in developing countries and have contributed towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
With regard to the environment, shipping is constantly improving its performance, thanks largely to the implementation of IMO measures. The input of oil and harmful substances to the marine environment, whether as a result of accidents or operational mishaps, is continuously declining. IMO has now established 14 Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, including the Great Barrier Reef, the very first PSSA to be designated, in 1990. Global regimes for greener and safer ship recycling and to stop the transfer of invasive species in ships’ ballast water have been firmly established and we are looking for global implementation of these as soon as possible. I understand that the Australian Government is seriously working on it and I expect the ratification of the Ballast Water Management Convention by Australia in the near future. And, as I have already mentioned, global standards to reduce GHG emissions and fuel consumption have developed and the shipping industry is actively promoting their application.
Shipping is an essential component of any programme for sustainable development. The world relies on a safe, secure, efficient and clean international shipping industry and shipping needs the comprehensive regulatory framework developed and maintained by IMO.
As a result of Rio +20, the United Nations is taking an initiative to set Sustainable Development Goals which will eventually supersede and go beyond the Millennium Development Goals. In this context, it is my view that IMO should develop sustainable development goals for shipping and maritime industries as IMO's contribution to the effort of the United Nations. The sustainable development goals should focus on the following pillars:
• energy efficiency;
• new technology and innovations;
• maritime education and training;
• maritime security and anti-piracy actions;
• maritime traffic management;
• maritime infrastructure development; and
• adoption and implementation of global standards by established by IMO.
I strongly believe that establishing a sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the development and growth of the world's economy. Indeed, without shipping, we cannot really think about the future of the global economy. But to achieve it will require a coordinated and integrated approach to maritime policy at both national and international levels and I will continue to search for ways and means to explore IMO's role to move forward towards sustainable maritime development.
One of my objectives as Secretary-General is to improve the delivery mechanism in the Secretariat as we seek to address newly emerging priorities and an ever-increasing workload. I refer, in particular, to the new demands upon the Organization from high-level policy concerns.
To achieve this will require effective human resource deployment, the creation of new, pro-active and transparent ways of handling our work, as well as improvements to our existing working methods. It will also require close cooperation between the Secretariat and Member Governments to implement the tight expenditure controls requested by the IMO Council.
At its twenty-seventh session, the Assembly, while approving the appropriations for the
2012-2013 biennium, invited me to develop and submit to the Council, during the current biennium, a long-term plan for the future financial sustainability of the Organization and to explore measures to allow the Organization to continue addressing high-priority safety, security, facilitation and environmental issues, as well as legal matters related thereto, by identifying cost savings and efficiencies.
This work is now well underway. The plan will not only cover the longer-term cost-saving and efficiency measures but also reflect the financial implications of the outcomes of the review and reform process that I have instigated, which include, among others, prospective changes and new arrangements in the meetings' delivery mechanism; technical cooperation activities; investment in information technology and communication; and human resource management. It is my intention to submit an initial draft of the plan to the Council, at its 109th session, for consideration and comment.
I have no doubt that the continuing value, indeed the indispensible and unique nature of IMO’s contribution to global prosperity and development will continue to be properly recognized and effectively funded.
The diligence and thoroughness with which IMO strives to deliver an international regulatory structure that ensures shipping can remain safe, secure, efficient and environment-friendly is as important now as it ever has been.
Ladies and gentlemen, while participating in Natship12, I am encouraged by current developments in Australia to make further efforts towards sustainable maritime industries.
I have refreshed my determination to work further setting new directions so that IMO, together with Member Governments and the industry, could make substantial progress in our work for the international shipping and the world community.